Peg Abbott is the owner and lead guide of Naturalist Journeys, LLC. She has been designing, guiding, and organizing natural history tours for more than 25 years, working for the National Audubon Society and other organizations before launching Naturalist Journeys, LLC in 1998. Her work has taken her from Alaska to Africa and Argentina, as well as many other locations around the world. She has conducted research on several bird and mammal species and keeps a close interest in Yellowstone and Mexican wolf reintroduction projects. Her interests include all aspects of natural history and geology. After 20 years in and around the Yellowstone area, Peg relocated in 2003 to the birding mecca of Portal, AZ.
Photo credit: Carol Simon
Rafael "Rafa" Campos
Rafa Campos joined our Naturalist Journeys’ group of talented guides in August of 2014, as we joined forces with Caligo Ventures. As the Master Guide and Tour Leader for Caligo Ventures for several decades, Rafa has served as Tour Leader throughout the New World tropics, including: Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, and Venezuela. India and other exotic destinations have filled his numerous personal journeys in pursuit of nature and birding. Former Assistant Curator for the University of Costa Rica and Field Assistant to Gary Stiles (author of A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica), Rafa is recognized as one of Costa Rica’s finest naturalists. A Caligo Ventures tour leader for more than two decades, his Central American experience includes studies on birds, bats, and primates as well as a number of botanical surveys. Our long-time Naturalist Journeys clients that traveled with owner Peg Abbott in her Audubon days will remember trips, booked through Caligo, where Peg teamed with Rafa as guide. He leads our Guyana group tour in the Fall of 2014, and look for him on a number of tours in 2015!
Gustavo is a professional birding guide, working with Naturalist Journeys in both Ecuador and Colombia. He has also led many trips to the Galapagos, the Andes, Amazonia, and more. Gustavo not only has expertise in botany, but also in birding, and is passionate about the history of South America. He has guided in Colombia since 1991 and has developed close relationships with many birders in the country. His knowledge, kindness, and enthusiasm help to create a forever memorable experience.
Willy Alfaro Cervantes
Artist and photography enthusiast Willy Alfaro has been guiding natural history and birding trips in Costa Rica, Cuba, the East Coast of US and Panama since 1992. In January of 2004, Willy went as a naturalist expert to Chile, including Patagonia and Easter Island with the University of Delaware.
When not guiding, he is an active lecturer and educator, having led biology workshops for the University of Costa Rica and for the University of Delaware’s Horticulture Program in Costa Rica.
His interest in birding has inspired active participation in the Costa Rican Ornithological Association, for which he has been on the Board of Directors since 1997. With the association and other organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Willy has participated in several taxonomy projects, documenting bird species and migration patterns of Costa Rica’s avifauna.
Willy has also volunteered for the Costa Rican Biodiversity Institute (INBio), La Selva Biological Station, and has organized guide training workshops EARTH Agricultural College.
Soft spoken, with a gentle disposition, Willy says his love of nature and science began at 6 yrs old when his father bought him an encyclopedia on Natural History. His interest in Biology bloomed in college, following a field trip to Braulio Carrillo National Park. After the trip, Willy began volunteering for the INBio herbarium and for a project studying the diet of the Scarlet Macaw in Carara National Park. He has also worked on a hummingbird-feeder project to find out the ecological impact on hummingbird populations.
A former student of Marketing, Today Willy is dedicated to ecotourism and to developing a database to map and study the populations of the birds of Costa Rica.
Photo credit: Peg Abbott
Bob Behrstock is a nature photographer, writer and tour leader living in SE Arizona. He has led birding and nature tours for nearly 30 years, primarily in North and Latin America. He has compiled Christmas Bird Counts in Mexico and participated in biological surveys including the development of birding and wildlife trails in several different states. As a full-time tour leader, he birded throughout the U.S., many countries in Latin America, and in the Old World. Besides taping and photographing birds in many countries, butterfly and dragonfly photography have taken him to all corners of the U.S. and several parts of Mexico. Bob has authored or co-authored nearly 50 popular and scientific papers concerning fishes, birds, dragonflies, and butterflies in the U.S. and Latin America, and prepared several of the family accounts for The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior. His bird and insect photos appear in books, newspapers, and magazines including: Audubon, Smithsonian, Birding, WildBird, American Butterflies, and the Handbook of Birds of the World. He is a co-author of Birdlife of Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coastand Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail and has just finished an introductory guide to Southwestern dragonflies. Bob enjoys birding with tour participants of all skill levels and is equally happy pointing his spotting scope at other creatures. naturewideimages.com
Photo credit: Karen LeMay
Dan Donaldson is an accomplished naturalist-birder based in Northeastern Ohio. Dan has developed his skills while working as a naturalist for a local park district for 15 years as well as with his full-time job as director of the local soil and water conservation district. With varied audiences from novices to experts, Dan incorporates much more than just identification in his tours and programs. Dan led tours for Discovery Tours and this is where Peg and Dan met. His specialization in birding locales ranges from the Great Lakes to coastal destinations from the Maritime Provinces of Canada to the Florida Keys.
Dan has led a number of historical tours including Michigan’s lighthouses.
Butterfly, orchid and bird authority of Honduras. An avid naturalist from childhood, Robert left his native California to join Peace Corps, finding a passion for tropical nature on arrival in 1993. He has authored two CD's, small field guides, and the forthcoming authoritative "Guide to the Birds of Honduras". He resides at the scenic Lake Yojoa and spends much of his time afield.
Gerard Gorman is a very experienced birding and wildlife guide, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe where his knowledge of the wildlife sites of the region is second to none, having visited every country from the Baltic to the Black Sea. He guided a Naturalist Journeys group on our previous tour to Hungary. Gerard is also an author, his books include Central and Eastern European Wildlife (Bradt, 2008) and Birding in Eastern Europe (WildSounds). His main ornithological interest focuses on woodpeckers, and he is regarded as an authority, authoring the acclaimed Woodpeckers of the World (Firefly Books, USA/Canada, 2014). Gerard is also interested in wildlife tracks and signs and his Pocket Guide to Tracks and Signs of European Wildlife (Bloomsbury, UK) was published in 2014.
Photo credit: probirder.com
Andrew started in the tourist industry in 1968 on Australia’s Dunk Island, then worked in the Melbourne Zoo's reptile department, followed by a stint at the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service. Here he did field work, supported by captive studies, on Brolgas, Sarus Cranes, Magpie Geese, Herbert River Ringtail Possums, Longtailed Pygmy Possums and a few others. He also participated in captive studies of tree kangaroos, antechinuses and leatherback turtles. In 1986 he started a small eco-tour company in North Queensland, which grew into a nature and adventure company. Once Andrew moved to the US, he was responsible for tours to the Pacific, Southeast Asia, Chile and Alaska, before starting Nature Travel Specialists in 2003. He resides in the peaceful birding haven of Dauphin Island where he quickly entered the local community to share interests of conservation. He enjoys cooking, reading, networking with friends and colleagues, and the challenge of a new adventure.
Photo credit: Peg Abbott
Dave Jasper hails from Wisconsin, where he began birdwatching when he was four years old. For 16 years he has lived in Portal, AZ and guided birders visiting the town and nearby Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains. On his property he maintains a bird feeding area that is open to visitors to date his feeders have attracted 218 species. Dave has led tours in the western U.S. and Mexico for a number of companies and non-profit organizations. He has also conducted numerous avian and botanical research projects for the U.S. Forest Service and other government agencies.
Kirt Kempter is a field geologist, teacher, and photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has conducted numerous tours and geologic expeditions around the world, from Antarctica to Iceland. Kirt received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study an active volcano in Costa Rica for his dissertation project. In recent years he has published numerous geologic maps and academic articles related to the geology of the Colorado Plateau and Rio Grande rift boundary in northern New Mexico. He is an avid photographer as well, and his innovative images, many of the areas we visit on the New Mexico: Geology in the Land of Georgia O’Keefe journey, can be found at geomosaics.com
Dodie Logue is an artist, a horse trainer and an avid birder. Her interest in birds has taken her all over the United States including Alaska, as well as Central and South America. She is a certified bird bander and has done surveys and banding in the U.S. and Ecuador. Dodie splits her time between the southwest and the midwest, where she has worked to turn her 120 acre farm back into a native landscape including wetlands and 50 acres of tall grass prairie. She has been involved with numerous citizen scientist projects and is a member of PAN (Project Art for nature), a group of midwest artists who make art about critical habitat and educate the public about it. She loves nothing better than spending all day out in the field hiking and observing.
Photo credit: Lynn Feryus
Pat Lueders has been leading birding trips in the St. Louis area and Midwest for over 10 years. A love of traveling has taken her to many countries of the world and most of the US, often with Naturalist Journeys' trips. When not out birding, she is the coordinator of volunteers for a number of Citizen Science projects partnering with many agencies including U.S. Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Audubon, National Trumpeter Swan Society, and Missouri Department of Conservation. Pat serves on the boards of St. Louis Audubon & Audubon Society of Missouri and is on a bird banding team.
Ed & Seliesa Pembleton
As Aldo Leopold said, “There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.” Ed and Seliesa Pembleton count themselves among those who cannot. The couple delights in introducing children and adults to the wonders of the natural world. For over 30 years as educators, naturalists and conservationists the Pembletons have lead field trips to explore landscapes, celebrate wild things and marvel at the annual gathering of more than 500,000 Sandhill Cranes along the Platte River in Nebraska. As a 14-year employee of the National Audubon Society, Ed was instrumental in directing national and worldwide attention to the river and the cranes. As director of the Leopold Education Project, he promoted Aldo Leopold’s philosophy of land ethics. An accomplished photographer, Ed’s pictures appear in books and national magazines. Seliesa has written wildlife books for children, worked at the Smithsonian Institution and for 10 years was director of environmental studies at Hard Bargain Farm, an outdoor education facility on the Potomac River. She has been invited to Japan several times to teach environmental education “American style.” The couple enjoys birding, hiking, gardening and canoeing. They look forward to sharing their expertise on rivers and prairies on upcoming Naturalist Journey’s adventures.
Born in Miami, Florida, Carlos has had a fascination with wildlife since childhood. In college he began to bird in earnest throughout Florida, South America, and even Australia. Currently, Carlos sits on the board of the Tropical Audubon Society, is a regular contributor to the birding blog 10,000 Birds, and leads local tours through his company, EcoAvian Tours. He has also been a resident guide at lodges in both Ecuador and Brazil.
Greg Smith has birded and searched out nature's wonders on all seven continents and has led natural history and birding tours in California, Alaska, Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica. He is recently retired after a 27-year career with the California State Park System. Formerly a park ecologist, Greg was a superintendent of eight park units, focusing on education on the importance of preserving natural and cultural resources. An accomplished wildlife photographer, he also maintains a U.S. Master Bird Banding permit. Greg plays an integral part in planning and administration of Naturalist Journeys. As our WEST COAST REPRESENTATIVE; he has designed a number of itineraries in California, Baja, Oregon and Washington. He lives in Morro Bay with his wife Karen.
Mark’s keen interest in nature as a boy led him to study biology at Oregon State University and build his own business as owner and tour operator of Mark Smith Nature Tours. For over 25 years, Mark has guided travelers to Central and South America, Asia, Africa, Madagascar, Australia and Europe. He has led many tours for the Nature Conservancy of Oregon, Portland Audubon Society, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and Elderhostel. He is co-author of Birds of Oregon and has conducted research for The National Science Foundation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy and the National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska. Mark resides in Oregon between trips, and has family living in Jamaica, as well as an interest in developing a new lodge in coastal Kenya. He joins Naturalist Journeys as a gifted teacher and naturalist — catch him if you can!
Photo credit: Ken Archer
Drs. Howard Topoff & Carol Simon
Drs. Howard Topoff and Carol Simon have been study leaders on natural history trips for over 20 years. Both are formerly professors at the City University of New York and Research Associates at the American Museum of Natural History. Howard Topoff has spent 40+ years researching the social behavior of animals. His field research has been conducted in Central and South America, Africa, and in the deserts and mountains of Arizona. In addition to his publications in scientific journals, his more popular articles have appeared in magazines such as Scientific American and Natural History. His research has been featured on National Geographic Television, and Scientific American Frontiers. Carol Simon is broadly trained in ecology, behavior and evolution. Her research on the social behavior of reptiles has taken her to many areas of North and Central America. Her current field research on reptile behavior is based in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona. As an added bonus, Carol and Howard provide multimedia presentations that provide in-depth insights into the natural history of the regions visited.
Woody Wheeler is a master birder, a certified interpretive guide and owner of Conservation Catalyst, a birding and natural history firm based in Seattle, Washington. He has worked for The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Seattle Parks Foundation, as a naturalist and tour leader. He holds degrees in Environmental Education and Geography. Woody is a skilled interpreter and educator with special expertise in birds. To augment field experiences, he is a natural story teller and a former teacher. His approach is inclusive; he enjoys working with diverse groups of people, and likes to combine physical activity with nature study. He inspires people to appreciate nature and to have fun along the way.
Banner photo credit: Gustavo Cañas Valle by Peg Abbott.